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August 29, 2007

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Discussion Topic: Should ATVs Run Wild?

From the Denver Post:

The U.S. Forest Service has begun imposing travel restrictions on ATVs and other off-road vehicles nationally, ending their long-standing permission to go almost anywhere.

The move marks the end of the principle that forest lands are "open unless designated closed" to motor vehicles and instead establishes that they are "closed unless designated open."

"People would say, 'Well, look, there's a two-track there, and it's been there for a long time,"' said Paul Cruz, recreation staff officer for the Arapahoe National Forest. "That won't work anymore. Now, the burden is on the user to have a ... map and to follow it."

What do you think? Is this the right policy?

Comments

Randa

I spend a great deal of time in the Ocala National Forest in Florida where I walk, take photos and observe wildlife. I make no noise, haul out my trash and leave only footprints. Many of the places I love to walk have been destroyed by hordes of ATV and jeep riders who have gone mad. For some reason, they seem to think they have the right to destroy public land. Some have told me they believe they should be able to do what they want because they pay taxes! Nobody has total freedom, even on their own property. If they did, we'd probably see some neighborhood nuclear power plants!
ATV riders seem to have left their critical thinking somewhere behind them on the trail. They run over rare plants, destroy nests of ground birds, harrass bears, crush gopher tortoise burrows and ruin trails that have been designated for foot traffic only. They remove or destroy signs that say "Resource Protection: Foot Travel Only," and then ride through wetlands or nesting areas at will. They do not seem to consider anything but their own pleasure.
They leave tons and tons of trash deep in the forest.
It's pretty clear to me that these folks slept through the day their teacher talked about the environment and the rights of others.
Right now, wildlife in the Ocala is very stressed from the recent drought. Yet, idots on motorized machines keep bears, otters, and other starving critters on the move, and carve hundreds of miles of illegal trails where these animals are trying to survive. Sadly, the USFS has allowed them to ride where ever they want. That the USFS now has rules and fees does not mean a thing to off-roaders; they know that enforcement is almost non-existent.
The USFS has bent over backwards to accommodate off-roaders from here to Alaska and now we are all paying the price. The off-road industry has convinced the feds that the USFS has an obligation to provide a market for ATVs and dirt bikes. As usual, it's about greed and profit. To hell with the environment!

let me run wild bitches

Alex

It's sad to see such ignorance, hate, and mis-information from those who oppose ATVs and other forms of OHV use. Properly used these vehicles are non-destructive and a great form of recreation. I teach OHV classes on building susainable trails as well as teaching Tread Lightly classes. I'm also a certified Motorcycle Safety Foundation dirt bike school instructor, ATV Safety Institute Instructor, a DNR ATV Instructor and am a member of the national Trail Patrol program. The industry through these programs have been very pro-active in addressing all of these concerns.

All forms of human activity have their bad eggs. I have seen horse groups and mountain bike users destroy trails. I have witnessed bicyclists and hikers just throw away their candy wrappers and drink bottles. The Jeep club and OHM club I belong to do yearly trail sweeps where we pick up this garbage put down by the Green(?) crowd. I also know of many hikers that would never do this. You have bad seeds in any activity, don't demonize a whole group because of a few.

I have no problem stopping off-trail (cross country) riding. But if we do that you need to provide adequate riding opportunities to the OHV recreationalists; adequate mileage of trails so they do not over-use the trails. Close all trails? Get real, we have as much right using them as any other citizen. Us riders/OHV users are not going away. You can work with us to create an adequate amount of sustainable trails or you can fight us in courts.

ALL of us OHV users are environmentalists; without the forests we have no place to ride, so we want to see any problems related to recreational uses of the forest have an acceptable resolution.

With the aging of America we are seeing more and more elderly and disabled using OHVs to access the forest. Wheather for recreational riding, bringing out game, having access to fishing spots, or taking the family with you in your Jeep they want to enjoy the outdoors like anyone else. Not everyone is up to hiking 40 miles with a heavy backpack.

By the way, how do the hikers/bicyclists/horse folks get to the trail heads? In a car/SUV and maybe even pulling a trailer. So you are using gas and oil products the same as an OHV user. Your "footprint" is also something that needs to be planned for in regard to sustainable trails and resource planning.




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